Nov 28, 2008

India - Q&A Vice Chairman Taj Hotels;We are committed to restore Taj to its full glory

Vice-chairman of Tata Group’s Indian Hotels, RK Krishna Kumar firmly commits to rebuilding the Taj and salutes the spirit of his employees.

Given that the Taj is a landmark not only for the Tata group but for the city of Mumbai and India, what are your thoughts on this tragedy?

I believe firmly that hostile interests look for a symbolic place to attack. It’s no surprise, then, that they have chosen to attack the city of Mumbai and two of its iconic landmarks — the Taj and the Oberoi. The way they took hostages from different nations and the meticulousness with which they went about the attack seems to suggest that it is no ordinary terrorist strike but an preemptive strike on India’s emergence as a global power.

The sheer scale of the attack seems to suggest that this strike had a sinister strategic intent and is an attempt to destabilise India’s rise.

How determined are you to rebuild this institution?

We are not just determined but completely committed to rebuilding the institution. Not just rebuilding the institution but we will restore it to its fullest glory. The loss of life that has taken place is extremely distressing, as is seeing a building as unique as this being destroyed. The entire top floor has gone up in flames, but as soon as the dust settles we will go out there and begin the rebuilding.

Have you been in touch with Mr Tata through this crisis?

Mr Tata has been on the line with me since 9 pm on Wednesday. He was all set to come to the hotel till the administration and the police advised us against it since the area had been cordoned off. There was no way that he would have been able to access the hotel. He is appalled by this attack and is standing by to visit the Taj as soon as the situation is fully under control.

We are given to understand that the employees of Taj put their lives at stake to ensure that the guests were unharmed. What do you have to say about the spirit shown by the Taj family?

The Taj’s greatest strength has been its people and today the spirit of Taj is visible in the way they dealt with the crisis. Even as I speak, there are many Taj employees who are risking their lives. In the Chambers I am told that they made all the guests get down on the floor and then stood against the door to form a barricade.

They established a helpline in Wellington Mews in the midst of the crisis. Our security staff without any fear for their own lives went in with the commandos which helped the commandos get a much better idea of the hotel geography. Many of the guests who made it out safely told me that the way the staff handled the situation was commendable.

The telephone operators informed every resident who was in his/her rooms to secure the room and not open the door no matter what and this was done in a calm and collected manner without giving rise to any panic. The spirit of Taj is one that is appropriate for India.

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